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MOROCCO 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy under which ultimate authority rests with
King Mohammed VI, who presides over the Council of Ministers. The king may
dismiss ministers, dissolve parliament, and call for new elections or rule by decree.
International and domestic observers judged the 2011 parliamentary elections
credible and relatively free from irregularities. The Party of Justice and
Development (PJD) won a plurality of seats in the 2011 elections. As mandated by
the constitution, in 2011 the king chose the PJD to lead the governing coalition.
During the year the government began to implement its advanced regionalization
plan, devolving certain budgetary and decision-making powers to locally elected
bodies. This also allowed for the direct election of certain local and regional
government officials for the first time. Civilian authorities failed at times to
maintain effective control over security forces.
The most significant continuing human rights problems were the lack of citizens
ability to change the constitutional provisions establishing the countrys
monarchical form of government, corruption, and widespread disregard for the rule
of law by security forces.
A variety of sources reported other human rights problems. These included
security forces committing human rights abuses on multiple occasions, including
reports of torture in detention. Prison and detention conditions were substandard.
The judiciary lacked independence and sometimes denied defendants the right to a
fair public trial. Pretrial detention frequently exceeded what the law allows.
Domestic and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) asserted there
were political prisoners, many of whom authorities reportedly detained under the
antiterrorism law. The government abridged civil liberties by infringing on
freedom of speech and press, including by harassing and arresting of print and
internet journalists for reporting and commenting on issues sensitive to the
government; limited freedom of assembly and association, and restricted the right
to practice ones religion. There was discrimination against women and girls.
Trafficking in persons and child labor continued to occur, particularly in the
informal sector.
There were few examples and no high-profile reports of investigations or
prosecutions of abuse or corruption by officials, whether in the security services or

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elsewhere in the government, which contributed to the widespread perception of


impunity.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or
unlawful killings.
b. Disappearance
There were no reported cases of politically motivated disappearance during the
year. An August 2014 report from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
stated it had received accusations from sources deemed to be credible that
disappearances continued to occur in direct violation of the constitution, which
provides for human treatment of prisoners and detainees, although it did not give
specific examples.
Regarding unresolved cases of disappearance dating to the 1970s and 1980s, the
National Council on Human Rights (CNDH), an institution created and funded by
the government to promote human rights and increase monitoring, continued to
investigate claims of enforced and involuntary disappearance and, when warranted,
recommended reparations in the form of money, health care, employment, or
vocational training. According to the CNDH, there were140 cases of
disappearances in process through legal channels and seven cases unresolved at
year-end. During the last several years, the CNDH shifted its activities in this
regard to community reparation projects and social rehabilitation programs. The
CNDH continued to review open claims for reparation and occasionally received
new claims, especially in Western Sahara. (For more information on reparation
claims in the territory, see the Department of States 2015 Country Reports on
Human Rights for Western Sahara.)
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment
The constitution and the law prohibit such practices, and the government denied it
used torture. The law defines torture and stipulates that all government officials or
members of security forces who make use of violence against others without
legitimate motive, or incite others to do the same, during the course of their duties
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shall be punished in accordance with the seriousness of the violence. A 2006


amendment to the law provides a legal definition of torture in addition to setting
punishments for instances of torture according to their severity. The government
also enacted measures designed to eliminate torture. For example, in November
2014 the government adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention against
Torture, with the CNDH filling the role of investigative organ for the prevention of
torture. Government institutions and NGOs, however, continued to receive reports
about the mistreatment of individuals in official custody.
A May 19 report by Amnesty International (AI), Shadows of Impunity: Morocco
and the Western Sahara, claimed that, based on more than 150 interviews between
2010 and 2014, while torture may no longer be an officially state-sanctioned
practice, an array of torture techniques are used by Moroccan security forces to
extract confessions to crimes, silence activists, and crush dissent. The report
concluded that police and security forces over this period routinely inflicted
beatings, asphyxiation, stress positions, simulated drowning, and psychological
and sexual violence. An AI representative went on to say, there is a gap between
whats on paper and whats in practice. Torture is not systematic but common.
The safeguards that exist currently are not being implemented. Additionally, the
report noted that a lack of investigations into, and prosecutions of, individuals
accused of torture contributes to a climate of impunity.
In 2013, at the invitation of the government, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention visited prisons in Sale, Tangier, Tetouan, Casablanca, and Laayoune in
Western Sahara. The groups report, released in August 2014, stated that in cases
related to state security, such as cases involving terrorism, membership in Islamist
movements or supporters of independence for Western Sahara, the Working Group
on Arbitrary Detention found that there was a pattern of torture and mistreatment
during arrest and in detention by police, in particular agents of the National
Surveillance Directorate.
In the event of an accusation of torture, the law requires judges to refer a detainee
to a forensic medical expert when the detainee or lawyer requests it, or if judges
notice suspicious physical marks on a detainee. According to governmentprovided data, there were 13 cases of alleged police torture presented to the legal
system during the year, although authorities did not provide specific examples.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, human rights NGOs, and media
documented prominent cases of authorities failure to implement provisions of the
antitorture law.
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During the year the government announced several cases where it conducted
investigations into allegations of torture. For example, in January independent
Arabic-language daily Akhbar al-Youm al-Maghrebiya reported that Minister of
Justice Mustapha Ramid ordered judicial police of Casablanca to investigate the
accusations of torture made by a man imprisoned in the Ain Qadous penitentiary in
Fes. The man, arrested by authorities on charges of drug trafficking, accused
police in Fes of forging records of his arrest and interrogation and of torturing him
during interrogations. The accuser stated that authorities held him with handcuffs
behind his back throughout the investigation and that police subjected him to
physical violence, which led him to lose consciousness. He added that he did not
make the declarations appearing in the accusation records and that he had signed
them under threat of torture. In another example, local media reported that in
March the regional command of the royal gendarmerie sent a commission
consisting of 16 members to the Tamaslouht gendarmerie center in the region of
Marrakech to investigate complaints against two gendarmes accused of mistreating
three brothers in the gendarmeries facilities. There were no further updates on
these cases at years end.
Despite several investigations into torture, there were no reported cases of
authorities punishing any individuals during the year. Moreover, in several cases
complainants received two- and three-year sentences and fines for making false
allegations of torture and reporting a crime that the complainant knows has not
been committed. In its May report, AI asserted that in the past 12 months, eight
such individuals faced legal sanctions for making false allegations of torture. In
August 2014 authorities sentenced Wafae Charaf, a human rights and political
activist, to two years in prison and a fine of dirhams 50,000 ($5,025) for allegedly
falsely reporting being abducted and tortured by unknown persons; she remained in
prison at years end.
On December 30, according to international press sources, UN international
peacekeeping troops, including from Morocco, were listed as participants in
sexually abusing young girls as they were queued to vote in elections in the Central
African Republic. The Royal Armed Forces of Morocco opened a criminal
investigation on the soldiers involved. The investigation continued at the end of
the year.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions remained poor and generally did not meet international
standards.
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Physical Conditions: The Moroccan Observatory of Prisons continued to report


that prisons were overcrowded, prone to violence, and failed to meet local and
international standards. Prisons were overcrowded, resulting in authorities
frequently holding pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners together. The
government attributed problems of overcrowding to an increase in prison
population over the last several years, with a concurrent decline in the overall
budget for prisons. According to government sources and NGOs, prison
overcrowding is due in large part to an under-utilized system of bail or provisional
release, a severe backlog in cases, and lack of judicial discretion to reduce the
length of prison sentences for specific crimes. Government sources stated that a
further complication was that administrative requirements prevented prison
authorities from transferring individuals in pretrial detention to facilities outside of
the jurisdiction where their trials are to take place.
The law provides for the separation of minors, but authorities held a number of
minors with adults, particularly in pretrial detention in ordinary prisons and in
police stations, due to the shortage of juvenile prison facilities. The government
reported that in cases where a juvenile court judge rules that their detention is
necessary, minors less than 14 years of age were detained separately from minors
for 15-18 years of age. Human rights groups reported that other minors, older
inmates, and prison guards abused young offenders, including sexually. There was
less overcrowding in the womens sections of gender-segregated facilities.
Local NGOs asserted that prison facilities did not provide adequate access to
health care and did not accommodate the needs of prisoners with disabilities,
although government sources stated that each prisoner received an average of six
consultations with a medical professional per year. The government reported that
119 inmates died in prison during the year, 14 en route to and 82 in a hospital.
Local human rights NGOs could not confirm these numbers. Prisoners lodged
complaints about the quality of food, specifically the availability of meat; friends
and family frequently were called upon to supplement prisoners diets with the
delivery of food baskets. NGOs frequently cited cases where prisoners protested
the conditions of their detention with hunger strikes.
Some human rights activists asserted the prison administration reserved harsher
treatment for Islamists who challenged the kings religious authority and those
accused of questioning the territorial integrity of the country. The Sale 1 Prison
held 21 of the prisoners, considered political prisoners by NGOs, convicted after
the 2010 dismantling of the Gdeim Izik Camp and subsequent violence in
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Laayoune. The 2014 report of the UN Working Group on Torture indicated its
members met with 22 of those prisoners in the Sale 1 Prison. It received
testimonies of torture and mistreatment and observed the deteriorating health
conditions of some of them due to prison conditions.
Administration: Prison administration recordkeeping was adequate, but there were
serious irregularities in the records, particularly in the administrative records of
those in police custody. Authorities did not implement alternatives to
imprisonment for nonviolent offenders, including alternatives to incarceration for
nonviolent offenders.
While authorities generally permitted relatives and friends to visit prisoners, there
were reports that the authorities denied visiting privileges in some instances.
The CNDH, created and funded by the government, and the Prison Administration
(DGPAR), a government institution, investigated allegations of inhuman
conditions. The CNDH and the DGPAR effectively served the function of an
ombudsman, and a system of letterboxes existed in prisons to facilitate
prisoners right to submit complaints regarding their imprisonment continued
operating. Detainees could submit complaints without censorship. Complaints
were brought to the DGPAR Delegate Generals Office for processing, as well as
to the CNDH. The CNDH reported that during the year, it received 79 complaints
alleging torture in eight different prisons; of those eight prisons, the CNDH
referred four to the public prosecutor. In one of these referred cases, the public
prosecutors office ordered that two prison officials be prosecuted; the remaining
three are under investigation.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted some NGOs with only a
human rights mandate and the International Committee for the Red Cross to
conduct unaccompanied monitoring visits. Government policy permitted NGOs
that provided social, educational, or religious services to prisoners to enter prison
facilities, and prison authorities reported that NGOs conducted 258 prison visits
during the first six months of the year, in addition to regular prison monitoring
visits conducted by the CNDH.
Improvements: To alleviate overcrowding, government authorities reported
completion of 10 new detention facilities during the year, which they are in the
process of filling. The government reported increasing the number of number of
vocational and educational training programs it administers in prisons. The
Mohammed VI Foundation for the Reinsertion of Prisoners provided educational
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and professional training to inmates on the verge of release, operating four


reinsertion centers providing job-skills training, with 3144 beneficiaries in 2015.
The government reported that enrollment in reinsertion programs increased
during the year, with 11,782 individuals enrolled in literacy programs, 7,009
individuals in educational programs up to university level.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Nonetheless, the UN
Human Rights Councils Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and other
observers indicated that police did not respect these provisions or consistently
observe due process. According to local NGOs and associations, police sometimes
arrested persons without warrants, held detainees beyond the statutory deadline to
charge them, and failed to identify themselves when making arrests.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The security apparatus includes several police and paramilitary organizations with
overlapping authority. The National Police manage internal law enforcement and
report to the Ministry of Interior. The Auxiliary Forces also report to the Ministry
of Interior and support gendarmes and police. The Royal Gendarmerie, which
reports to the Administration of National Defense, is responsible for law
enforcement in rural regions and on national highways. Both the Royal
Gendarmerie and the judicial police report to the royal prosecutor. The
Department of Royal Security is a branch of the National Police and reports to the
king.
Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security
forces, and there were reports of abuses and impunity. Systemic and pervasive
corruption undermined law enforcement and the effectiveness of the judicial
system. Authorities provided no official data about government investigation,
prosecution, or punishment of officials who committed such abuses.
Impunity was pervasive in the absence of effective mechanisms to investigate and
punish abuse and corruption. International and domestic human rights
organizations claimed that authorities dismissed many complaints and relied only
on the police version of events. Two associations won prominent court decisions
or had these court decisions enforced after local Ministry of Interior offices refused
permits for the routine operations of associations, such as the organization of
events or submission of paperwork to renew branch offices registration. An
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administrative court in Temara ruled on December 30 that the Ministry of Interior


had acted inappropriately in refusing to receive a petition by the Moroccan
Association of Human Rights (AMDH) to renew their permit to operate a local
branch in the city. In March authorities informed another organization, the
Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by
the Moroccan State (ASVDH), that it had received status as a registered NGO, in
compliance with a 2005 decision by a court in Agadir requiring the government to
grant its registration request.
Authorities investigated some low-level incidents of alleged abuse and corruption,
although information about the internal and/or external mechanisms to investigate
security force abuses is not publicly available. Authorities did not systematically
prosecute security personnel who committed human rights abuses. Cases often
languished in the investigatory or trial phases.
In one example of a successful prosecution for low-level corruption, in January
authorities sentenced two highway policeman near the southern city of Tantan to a
month in jail and a 2,000 dirhams ($200) fine after authorities found a video of
them accepting a bribe from a tourist. The government announced it had
conducted a number of training initiatives on human rights during the year, in
cooperation with the CNDH; however, mechanisms to enforce the implementation
of human rights norms among law enforcement were lacking.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Police may arrest an individual after a general prosecutor issues an oral or written
warrant. The law provides for access to a lawyer in the first 24 hours after arrest in
ordinary criminal cases, but authorities did not consistently respect that provision.
The law permits authorities to deny defendants access to counsel or family
members during the initial 96 hours of detention under terrorism-related laws or
during the initial 24 hours of detention for other charges, with an optional
extension of 12 hours with the approval of the Prosecutors Office. Reports of
abuse or torture generally referred to these initial detention periods, when police
interrogated detainees.
The law states that in the case of a flagrant offense, the Judicial Police Officer has
the right to keep the suspect in detention for 48 hours. If strong and corroborated
evidence is raised against this person, [the officer] can keep them in custody for a
maximum of three days with the written authorization of the prosecutor. For
normal crimes authorities can extend this 48-hour period twice, for up to six days
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in detention. Under terrorism-related laws, a prosecutor may renew the initial


detention by written authorization for a total detention time of 12 days. According
to the Antiterrorism Act, there is no right to a lawyer during this time except for a
half-hour monitored visit at the midpoint of the 12-day period (see section 1.d.).
During the year observers widely perceived a new law on counterterrorism as
consistent with international standards.
NGO sources stated that some judges were reticent to use alternative sentences
permitted under the law, such as provisional release. The law does not require
written authorization for release from detention. In some instances judges released
defendants on their own recognizance. A bail system exists; the deposit may be in
the form of property, or as a sum of money paid into court in an effort to persuade
the judge to release a suspect. The amount of the deposit is left to the discretion of
the judge, who decides the amount of the deposit depending on the offense. Bail
may be requested at any time before the judgment. According to the law, all
defendants have the right to attorneys; if a defendant cannot afford private counsel,
authorities must provide a court-appointed attorney when the criminal penalty
exceeds five years in prison. Authorities did not always provide effective counsel.
In nonterrorism cases the law requires police to notify a detainees next of kin of
the arrest as soon as possible after the initial 36-hour period of incommunicado
detention, unless arresting authorities applied for and received an extension from a
magistrate. Police did not consistently abide by this provision. Because
authorities sometimes delayed notifying the family, authorities did not inform
lawyers promptly of the date of arrest, and they were not able to monitor
compliance with detention limits and treatment of the detainee. Under a separate
military code, military authorities may detain members of the military without a
warrant or public trial.
Arbitrary Arrest: Security forces often arrested groups of individuals, took them to
a police station, questioned them for several hours, and released them without
charge.
The August 2014 report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted
that, contrary to law, authorities have arrested undocumented migrants, detained
them, and escorted them to the borders or otherwise expelled them without an
opportunity to exercise their rights. The government failed to provide persons
awaiting deportation--who were not under the authority of the prison system--with
information about the reasons for their arrest or conditions of their detention (see
section 2.d.).
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Pretrial Detention: Although the government claimed that authorities generally


brought accused persons to trial within two months, prosecutors may request as
many as five additional two-month extensions of pretrial detention. Pretrial
detentions can last as long as one year, and there were reports that authorities
routinely held detainees beyond the one-year limit. Government officials
attributed these delays to the large backlog of cases in the justice system. The
Foreign Ministry stated that a variety of factors contributed to this backlog: a lack
of resources devoted to the justice system, both human and infrastructure; the lack
of plea bargaining as an option for prosecutors, lengthening the amount of time to
process cases on average; and the scant use of mediation and other out-of-court
settlement mechanisms allowed by law. The government reported that 40.9
percent of detainees were in pretrial detention. In some cases detainees received a
sentence shorter than the time they spent in pretrial detention.
Amnesty: The king continued selectively to exercise his ability to grant pardons or
sentence reductions to those convicted of crimes. The decision-making process for
granting royal pardons remained opaque. During the year, according to
government figures, the king granted 4,498 royal pardons, releases, or sentence
reductions; the number of releases that were pardons was unknown.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the courts were not
independent. Government officials, NGOs, and lawyers widely acknowledged that
corruption and extrajudicial influence weakened judicial independence. The
outcomes of trials in which the government had a strong political stake, such as
those touching on the monarchy, Islam as it related to political life and national
security, and the Western Sahara, appeared predetermined. Authorities sometimes
failed to respect court orders.
Trial Procedures
The law presumes that defendants are innocent. After an initial investigation
period in which the order of a prosecutor can detain individuals, defendants are
informed promptly of their charges before their trial. The law provides for the
right to a fair public trial with the right of appeal, but this did not always occur,
especially for those protesting the incorporation of Western Sahara into the
country. There are no juries. Attorneys, particularly in juvenile matters, indicated
that, although clients frequently maintained their innocence, judges ignored the
question of culpability and focused on sentencing.
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Defendants have the right to be present at their trial and to timely consultation with
an attorney. In practice authorities often denied lawyers timely access to their
clients and, in the majority of cases, met them only at the first hearing before the
judge. Authorities did not appoint attorneys in all cases or, if provided at public
expense, paid them poorly. Defense attorneys often were neither properly trained
in matters pertaining to juveniles nor provided to defendants in a timely fashion.
This practice often resulted in inadequate representation. Many NGOs provided
attorneys for minors, who frequently did not have the means to pay. Such
resources were limited and specific to larger cities. By law defendants in criminal
and human rights cases have access to government evidence against them, but
judges sometimes prevented or delayed access. The law permits defense attorneys
to question witnesses. Despite the provisions of the law, some judges reportedly
denied defense requests to question witnesses or to present mitigating witnesses or
evidence.
The law forbids judges from admitting confessions made under duress. NGOs
reported that the judicial system relied heavily on confessions for the prosecution
of criminal cases, and that authorities pressured investigators to obtain a confession
from a suspect in order for prosecution to proceed. In its August 4 report, the UN
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that authorities convicted and
sentenced to prison many individuals in detention solely based on confessions
obtained under duress. In a report published in May, AI stated that authorities still
used inhuman practices to obtain confessions. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and
local NGOs charged that judges, at their discretion, decided cases based on forced
confessions. NGOs alleged this occurred frequently in cases against Sahrawis or
individuals accused of terrorism. According to authorities, police sometimes used
claims regarding detainees statements in place of defendants confessions when
there was a possible question of duress.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
The law does not define or recognize the concept of a political prisoner. The
government did not consider any of its prisoners to be political prisoners and stated
that it had convicted or charged all individuals in prison under criminal law.
Human rights groups and groups advocating Western Saharas independence
alleged, however, that there was a substantial number of political prisoners held
across the territory and in internationally recognized Morocco.

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Criminal law, however, covers nonviolent advocacy and dissent, such as insulting
police in songs or defaming Moroccos sacred values by denouncing the king
and regime during a public demonstration. Additionally, NGOs, including the
Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Sahrawi organizations, and Amazigh
activist groups, asserted that the government imprisoned persons for political
activities or beliefs under the cover of criminal charges.
For example, in March police arrested Hicham Mansouri, a journalist and project
manager for the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), on
charges of adultery. Mansouris attorney claimed that policemen entered his home
on the evening of March 17, beat Mansouri, and stripped him naked to give the
appearance of his having engaged in adultery with his married though separated
partner. Under the law adultery is punishable with up to a year in prison. On April
3, authorities convicted Mansouri of adultery and starting a brothel; they sentenced
him to 10 months in prison and a 40,000 dirhams ($4,020) fine. Mansouris
attorney alleged that the charges were politically motivated as, at the time of his
arrest, he was reportedly working on a report regarding alleged internet
surveillance of activists and journalists by the authorities. He was also scheduled
to be tried on November 19 as part of a group of investigative journalists under
investigation for a number of potential charges, including receiving foreign
funding without notifying the General Secretariat of the government and charges
of threatening the internal security of the state. The hearing for presentation of
charges was postponed and had not taken place at years end.
The government selectively permitted access to alleged political prisoners by
international human rights or humanitarian organizations.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Although individuals have access to civil courts for lawsuits relating to human
rights violations and filed lawsuits, such lawsuits were frequently unsuccessful due
to the courts lack of independence on politically sensitive cases, or lack of
impartiality stemming from extrajudicial influence and corruption. There are
administrative as well as judicial remedies for alleged wrongs.
A National Ombudsmans Office (Mediator Institution) helped to resolve civil
matters that did not clear the threshold to merit involvement of the judiciary; it
gradually expanded the scope of its activities and subjected complaints to in-depth
investigation. Authorities retransmitted to the CNDH for resolution cases
specifically related to allegations of human rights abuses against authorities. The
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CNDH continued to be a conduit through which citizens expressed complaints


regarding human rights abuses and violations.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution states an individuals home is inviolable and that a search may
take place only with a search warrant; however, authorities at times entered homes
without judicial authorization, monitored without legal process personal movement
and private communications--including e-mail, text messaging, or other digital
communications intended to remain private--and employed informers.
The January publication Their Eyes on Me: Surveillance in Morocco by Privacy
International recounted incidents of alleged harassment of individuals and citizen
journalists covering topics sensitive to the government. The report provided
accounts of unannounced visits by state officials to the families of individuals
whose personal computers, websites, and works were allegedly hacked and phones
allegedly tapped.
Authorities postponed the November 19 trial of former advocacy director of Global
Voices, Hisham Almiraat, and a group of fellow investigative journalists to March
23, under investigation for reportedly threatening the internal security of the
state and receiving unreported foreign funds. Some evidence in the case against
him and others reportedly came from the journalists account in the Privacy
International report, which documented the 2012 hacking of the independent media
platform they helped create, Mamfakinch.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of speech and press,
although it criminalizes and restricts some freedom of expression in the press and
social media--specifically criticism of Islam, the institution of the monarchy, and
the governments official position regarding territorial integrity and claim to
Western Sahara. Such criticism can result in prosecution under the Penal Code,
with punishments ranging from fines to jail time. Government-provided figures
for the year showed that 23 journalists or media outlets faced charges for breaches
of the national Press Code, but did not distinguish between criminal or civil
charges. This number included cases that the government initiated as well as
private citizens libel complaints. International and domestic human rights groups
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criticized criminal prosecutions of journalists and publishers as well as of libel


suits. The government principally used these laws to restrict independent human
rights groups and the press and social media.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: The law criminalizes and the government
actively prosecuted persons who criticized Islam, the institution of the monarchy,
state institutions, officials such as those in the military, and the governments
official position regarding territorial integrity and claim to Western Sahara.
On March 23, authorities arrested online journalist Adil Karmouti on charges
related to public defamation, insulting employees during the exercise of their
work, and libel against an organized institution. This charge referred to the
General Directorate of National Security after Karmouti criticized the organization
and its head, Bouchaib Armil, due to leaked videos, which appeared to show
members of security forces demanding bribes from foreign tourists and Moroccan
citizens.
Press and Media Freedoms: The antiterrorism law and press code include
provisions that permit the government to jail and impose financial penalties on
journalists and publishers who violate restrictions related to defamation, libel, and
insults. Authorities may impose prison sentences on those convicted of libel.
Consequently, self-censorship remained prevalent. Authorities filed charges of
libel and other violations of the criminal code against specific journalists, with
prosecution of these charges indefinitely delayed. For example, the government
brought politically motivated investigations against human rights activists under
Article 206 of the Penal Code that criminalizes the receipt of indirect support from
abroad to finance an activity capable of undermining citizens allegiance to
constitutional institutions or of shaking their loyalty to the state.
The antiterrorism law and press code include provisions that permit the
government to jail and impose financial penalties on journalists and publishers who
violate restrictions related to defamation, libel, and insults. Authorities may
impose prison sentences on those convicted of libel. Self-censorship and
government restrictions on sensitive topics remained serious hurdles to the
development of a free, independent, and investigative press. Prosecutors
sometimes indefinitely delayed cases leaving journalists and publishers free on bail
but understandably hesitant to pursue follow up or new politically sensitive stories.
The government also enforced strict procedures governing NGO representatives
and political activists meeting with journalists. Foreign journalists needed, but did
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not always receive, approval from the Ministry of Communication before meeting
with political activists.
Officials targeted members of the Moroccan Association for Investigative
Journalism (AMJI) during the year. Authorities detained and questioned several
members; officials also barred them from leaving the country to attend
international conferences, due to assertions that AMJI was under criminal
investigation for funding irregularities.
On March 17, authorities arrested AMJI member Hicham Mansouri on charges of
participation in adultery for which authorities convicted him, sentenced him to
10 months in prison, and fined him 40,000 dirhams ($4,020) (see section 1.e.,
Political Prisoners and Detainees).
In a related example, in September authorities barred AMJI member Maati Monjib
from traveling to a conference in Barcelona. According to authorities, the
government initiated the travel ban at the request of a prosecutor as part of an
investigation into the groups finances; international observers believed the ban to
be politically motivated. In September, Maati Monjib conducted a 21-day hunger
strike in response to the travel ban and what he referred to as a campaign of
official harassment. In October authorities lifted the travel ban, and the
investigation continued at years end.
Violence and Harassment: Authorities subjected some journalists to harassment
and intimidation, including attempts to discredit them through rumors about their
personal life. Journalists reported that selective prosecutions served as a
mechanism for intimidation.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: Self-censorship and government restrictions
on sensitive topics remained serious hurdles to the development of a free,
independent, and investigative press. While the government rarely censored the
domestic press, it exerted pressure by pursuing legal cases that resulted in heavy
fines and suspended publication. Such cases encouraged editors and journalists to
self-censor. The press code lists threats to public order as one of the criteria for
censorship. Publications and broadcast media must also obtain government
accreditation. The government may deny and revoke accreditation as well as
suspend or confiscate publications.
On February 1, authorities detained two French journalists at the Rabat
headquarters of the AMDH while they were filming an interview for a television
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documentary for France 3 on economic conditions in the country. On February 2,


authorities expelled the journalists for working without authorization; the
journalists maintained that authorities had not responded to their request for
authorization.
Libel/Slander Laws: Authorities filed charges of libel and other violations of the
criminal code against specific journalists. For example, in June a court of first
instance ordered news website Goud.ma to pay a fine of 20,000 dirhams ($2,010)
for slander and 500,000 dirhams ($51,250) in restitution to Mounir Majidi, the
personal secretary of King Mohammed VI. The case stemmed from a press review
published early in the year, in which the website cited comments from another
media outlets article, which referred to Majidi in his capacity as a businessman.
The defense lawyer claimed that the law on defamation applies only to those who
first published material rather than those that cited it.
National Security: The antiterrorism law provides for the arrest of journalists and
filtering websites deemed to disrupt public order by intimidation, terror, or
violence. The press code includes provisions that permit the government to jail
and impose financial penalties on journalists and publishers who violate
restrictions related to defamation, libel, and insults.
Internet Freedom
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet, but it did apply
laws and restrictions governing speech and the press to the internet. According to
a 2015 Freedom House report, the government did not block or filter any websites
during the year, although laws on combatting terrorism permit the filtering of
websites. The report noted that the general atmosphere of fear has increased selfcensorship. According a 2014 World Bank estimate, 57 percent of the population
used the internet.
The government used the same tools to restrict expression on the internet as it does
for the print media. For example, on June 29, a Casablanca court sentenced Hamid
El Mehdaoui, editor of the news website Badil, to a four-month suspended
sentence for allegedly defaming the head of the General Directorate of National
Security, Abdellatif el Hammouchi. El Mehdaoui had published an article about
the death of Karim Lachaqr, an activist who died in police custody in May 2014.
The court ordered both him and his source (not a journalist) to pay combined
damages of 100,000 dirhams ($10,050) or face imprisonment.
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There are no specific laws or body of judicial decisions concerning internet content
or access. Individuals and groups self-censored and generally carefully adhered to
restrictions on expression and, accordingly, engaged in peaceful exchanges of
views via the internet, including by e-mail.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
By law the government has the right to criminalize presentations or debate
questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy, Islam, state institutions, or the status
of Western Sahara. The law restricts cultural events and academic activities,
although the government generally provided more latitude to political and religious
activism confined to university campuses. The Ministry of Interior approved
appointments of university rectors in keeping with the Organic Law on
Nominations to High Functions.
On August 31, authorities informed AMJI cofounder and academic Maati Monjib
of an international travel ban preventing him from participating in a Barcelona
conference on transitions in the Arab World. According to authorities, the
government initiated the travel ban at the request of a prosecutor as part of an
investigation into the groups finances; many international observers believed the
ban to be politically motivated. In October authorities lifted the travel ban, after
the date of the conference.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The law conditions the right to assemble publicly on acquiring Ministry of Interior
permission. Some NGOs complained that authorities did not apply the approval
process consistently. The government used administrative delays and other
methods to suppress or discourage unwanted peaceful assembly. Groups of more
than three persons require authorization to assemble. In the absence of this
authorization, authorities disbanded meetings organized by groups ranging from
reformers to the national union of judges, sometimes with excessive force.
Civil society organizations reported that authorities disrupted an increased number
of events during the year. For example, police forcibly dispersed a May 16 event
organized by prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI)
advocacy organization Aswat (voices in Arabic) to celebrate International Day
Against Homophobia and Transphobia, entitled The Penal Code: Is Love a
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Crime? Reportedly, authorities arrested one member of Aswat. The Cervantes


Institute in Rabat cancelled another Aswat event scheduled for the following day
after the institutes management received pressure not to permit the event to
proceed.
In January a court ordered the Ministry of Youth and Sport to pay a settlement of
50,000 dirhams ($5,025) to the AMDH in relation to the illegal cancellation of one
of their events in September 2014. According to a HRW report issued in late
August, however, authorities prevented AMDH from holding more than 60 of their
events during the year, with a number of activities indefinitely postponed when
authorities prevented suitable local facilities from being available whenever the
group sought to use them. A number of civil society contacts reported increased
instances when private event spaces abruptly cancelled bookings citing official
pressure not to allow controversial activities on their premises.
Freedom of Association
The constitution and the law provide for freedom of association, although the
government placed severe restrictions on this freedom. The government prohibited
or failed to recognize political opposition groups by deeming them unqualified for
NGO status. According to HRWs World Report 2015, police allowed many
protests demanding political reform and protesting government actions, but on
some occasions, they attacked and severely beat protesters. HRW reported that in
one example in April, authorities arrested 11 men demonstrating for reform in
Casablanca and accused them of hitting and insulting police. On May 22,
authorities sentenced the men to prison terms of up to one year with the court
relying on similarly worded confessions--which the accused disavowed during
their trials. The individuals filed an appeal, and in June the courts provisionally
freed nine of the men, pending the final review of their appeals.
The Ministry of the Interior required NGOs to register, but there was no
comprehensive national register publicly available. A prospective organization
must submit its objectives, bylaws, address, and photocopies of members
identification cards to the ministry. The ministry issues a receipt to the
organization that signifies formal approval. If the organization does not receive a
receipt within 60 days, it is not formally registered. The government denied
official recognition to NGOs that it considered as advocating against the
monarchy, Islam as the state religion, or territorial integrity. Several organizations
the government chose not to recognize functioned without the receipts, and the
government tolerated their activities. In 2005 the ASVDH won an administrative
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court judgment confirming that its applications for registration conformed to the
law. In March the government announced that it had completed the registration of
ASVDH ordered by an Agadir court in 2005.
Authorities in general were reluctant to permit registration of organizations
supporting self-determination for Western Sahara. Authorities continued to deny
registration to many other organizations, which they found controversial.
Unregistered organizations could not access government funds or legally accept
contributions.
Authorities continued to monitor Justice and Charity Organization activities.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of States International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
In-country Movement: The law provides for freedom of internal movement.
Authorities generally respected this right, although the government restricted
movement in areas regarded as militarily sensitive, including the demilitarized
zone in Western Sahara.
Exile: While the law provides for forced exile, there were no instances of forced
exile during the year.
Emigration and Repatriation: The government encouraged the return of Sahrawi
refugees if they acknowledged the governments authority over Western Sahara.
The government continued to make travel documents available to Sahrawis, and
there were no reported cases of authorities preventing Sahrawis from traveling.
(For more information see the Department of States 2015 Country Reports on
Human Rights for Western Sahara.)
Protection of Refugees
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection
and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of
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concern. In February media sources reported that 5,250 Syrians received status
through the 2014 regularization campaign, some of whom UNHCR had recognized
as refugees.
Access to Asylum: The law provides for refugee status. The government has
historically deferred to UNHCR as the sole agency in the country entitled to grant
refugee status and verify asylum cases. The government reported that as of
September 21, the Commission in Charge of Hearings for Asylum Seekers at the
Bureau of Refugees and Stateless Persons had submitted 577 persons for
recognition of refugee status. In 2014 the government conducted a yearlong
campaign to regularize the status of the large transitory migrant population in the
country, with the government stating that it recognized two types of asylum status:
refugees designated according to the UNHCRs statute and the exceptional
regularization of persons in irregular situation.
On February 9, Minister of Interior Mohammed Hassad announced the end of the
migrant regularization program, stating that authorities would dismantle migrant
camps around the Spanish enclaves. Simultaneously, security forces raided
migrant camps in the forests of Nador, near the Spanish exclave of Melilla,
arresting more than 1,000 persons and relocating them to various locations in the
south. According to government and international media reports, approximately
18,700 regularization applications were submitted. Duration of stay was the most
common basis of claim for regularization. Meanwhile, the status of approximately
9,000 timely submitted applications remained unclear according to International
Organization of Migration. While a government-sponsored appeals commission
exists, it has not operated since July 2014. Authorities later stated it would not
renew the regularization program, citing it as a potential incentive for further
migration.
Refugee Abuse: Refugees and asylum seekers, as well as migrants, were
particularly vulnerable to abuse. There were periodic reports, particularly in the
north, of mass arrests and brutalization by security forces of sub-Saharan migrants
and of abuse by criminal gangs involved in human trafficking. There were reports
of government authorities arresting or detaining migrants, particularly around the
Spanish enclave cities of Melilla and Ceuta, and forcibly relocating them to other
cities in the country (see section 1.d.).
UNHCR reported arrests of migrants and asylum seekers during the year, and
NGOs reported that authorities at times deported migrants without recourse to legal
counsel and sometimes to countries other than their country of origin.
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Access to Basic Services: Recognized refugees were able to gain access to health
care services. Asylum seekers were, however, often unable to access the national
health-care system and continued to have little access to the judicial system.
Observers reported that the children of beneficiaries of the regularization program
had access to the education system and other social benefits, although
implementation of this aspect of the regularization program was inconsistent.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
Citizens do not have the ability to change the constitutional provisions establishing
the countrys monarchical form of government. The law provides for, and citizens
participated in, regular, free elections based on universal suffrage for parliaments
Chamber of Representatives and municipal and regional councils. Regional and
professional bodies indirectly elected members of parliaments Chamber of
Counselors.
The king may dissolve parliament in consultation with the head of government
(prime minister) and can rule by decree. As head of state, the king appoints the
head of government. The king presides over the Council of Ministers, the supreme
decision-making body, except in cases when he delegates that authority to the head
of government.
Matters of security, strategic policy, and religion remain within the purview of the
king, who presides over the Supreme Security Council and the Ulema Council
(Council of Senior Religious Scholars). The constitution obliges the king to
choose the prime minister from the party with the most elected seats in the
Chamber of Representatives. The constitution authorizes the prime minister to
nominate all government ministers, although they serve at the kings pleasure since
he has the power to dismiss them. Royal advisors worked closely in undefined
coordinating roles with government ministries.
A national referendum, the results of which require the kings approval or a bill
submitted by the king that receives two-thirds majority approval from both
legislative chambers can amend the constitution.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: On September 4, the country held direct elections for municipal
and regional councils. These were the first elections to define electoral districts
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according to the 12 regions set out by the governments regionalization scheme,


a plan designed to accord a greater amount of authority to local officials. On
October 2, regional and professional bodies elected members of the Chamber of
Counselors, the upper house of parliament.
The government-sponsored CNDH was the lead institution monitoring the election.
The Electoral Accreditation Commission, presided over by the CNDH with the
participation of the Interministerial Delegation for Human Rights, the Central
Instance for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC), and five domestic associations
accredited 3,425 domestic observers. An additional 76 international observers
took part in election monitoring. The major political parties and the vast majority
of the domestic observers considered the elections free, fair, and transparent. Most
international observers considered them credible elections in which voters were
able to choose freely and deemed the process relatively free of irregularities.
Political Parties and Political Participation: Political parties faced fewer
government-imposed restrictions under the revised constitution. The Ministry of
Interior applied laws that made it easier for political parties to register. A political
party may not legally challenge the institution of the monarchy, Islam as the state
religion, or the countrys territorial integrity. The law prohibits basing a party on a
religious, ethnic, or regional identity.
Participation of Women and Minorities: Female politicians featured prominently
in media on a variety of matters, but authorities largely excluded them from senior
decision-making positions. Following a government reshuffle in October, the 39member cabinet included six women, two ministers and four ministers delegate.
Several of the kings senior advisors were women. The 2015 elections increased
participation of women in the Chamber of Counselors from 2 percent to 12
percent. Voters elected a record number of women in the September 4 municipal
and regional council elections, although very few subsequently won leadership
positions on the councils in later internal elections.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but the government did
not implement the law effectively. Officials often engaged in corrupt practices
with impunity. Corruption was a serious problem in the executive branch,
including police, as well as in the legislative and judicial branches. There were
reports of mostly petty government corruption, but authorities investigated few
cases and successfully prosecuted none during the year. There was a widespread
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perception of serious government corruption, but few reports of mid- or high-level


corruption. Generally, observers considered corruption a serious problem, with
insufficient governmental checks and balances to reduce its occurrence.
The king, who has made statements calling for judicial system reform since 2009,
acknowledged the judiciarys lack of independence and susceptibility to influence.
Many members of the well-entrenched and conservative judicial community were
loath to adopt new procedures.
Corruption: The ICPC is responsible for combating corruption. In May parliament
adopted a constitutionally mandated law providing the ICPC with the authority to
compel government institutions to comply with anticorruption investigations and
published it in the Official Bulletin in July. According to government figures, the
ICPC received 400 formal complaints or denunciations in 2014 (7 percent fewer
than in 2013). The ICPC forwarded to the general prosecutor 37 cases of
corruption in 2014 and 14 in 2015. Legal penalties for corruption were rare, with
the government reporting that only one official during the year was the subject of a
judicial inquiry, and that did not result in charges.
The government announced during the year new measures designed to tackle
corruption, including the June inauguration of a new hotline to receive public tips
about instances of corruption, which reportedly resulted in 10 arrests. Government
sources stated that the most common type of corruption in the country was fraud
related to government procurement contracts.
In addition to the ICPC, the Ministry of Justice and the High Audit Institution
(government accountability court) had jurisdiction over corruption issues, but they
did not pursue any high-profile cases during the year.
Observers noted widespread corruption in the police force. The government
claimed to investigate corruption and other instances of police malfeasance
through an internal mechanism. During the year 24 gendarmes were the subject of
judicial investigations, of which 12 were sentenced to two months in prison and
fines ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 dirhams ($100 to $500); one has been sentenced
to four months in prison; and three were awaiting judgment in their cases.
Financial Disclosure: The law requires judges, ministers, and members of
parliament to submit financial disclosure statements to the High Audit Institution,
which is responsible for monitoring and verifying disclosure compliance. But
according to allegations from government transparency groups, many officials did
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not file disclosures. There are no effective criminal or administrative sanctions for
noncompliance.
Public Access to Information: There is no freedom of information law. The
constitution provides for citizen access to information held by public institutions,
but authorities did not provide a dedicated access mechanism. The government
rarely granted access to official information to citizens and noncitizens, including
foreign media. Public officials received no training on access to information.
There were no public outreach activities regarding public access to information.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Groups investigated and published findings on human rights cases; however, the
governments responsiveness to, cooperation with, and restrictions on domestic
and international human rights organizations varied, depending on its evaluation of
the political orientation of the organization and the sensitivity of the issues.
For example, in May the release of an AI report on the continued use of abusive
practices in detention facilities triggered a large-scale official media reaction
sharply criticizing the reports evident bias. On June 9, authorities expelled John
Dalhuisen, AIs director for Europe and Central Asia, and Irem Arf, researcher on
refugee and migrants rights in Europe, who arrived the previous day to conduct an
investigation into the treatment of sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers.
Authorities asserted they did not have the requisite permission necessary to
conduct their research, despite previous assurances to AI that they would be able
to conduct their investigation.
On September 29, in a separate incident, the government ordered HRW to suspend
its activities, leading to the cancellation of a regional retreat for HRW staff in
Casablanca and its relocation to Tunisia. An open letter by Minister of
Communications Mustapha El Khalfi, published in the Wall Street Journal, stated
the suspension was due to that organizations persistent bias in reporting on
human rights conditions in the region. The government insisted that HRW must
make clarifications to the government in a meeting before the government would
allow HRW to resume activities. The government and HRW claimed they had sent
requests to each other to establish meetings, but the issue remained unresolved at
years end.

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The government recognized several domestic human rights NGOs with national
coverage. The Moroccan Organization for Human Rights, which received indirect
government funding, and the AMDH were the largest domestic human rights
organizations.
During the year activists and NGOs reported increasing restrictions on their
activities in the country. According to the AMDH, authorities prohibited 75 of its
scheduled activities between June 2014 and March. Many activists reported that
rather than banning activities outright, the government resorted to restricting the
use of public spaces and conference rooms, as well as informing the proprietors of
private spaces that certain activities should not be welcome. Some unrecognized
NGOs that did not cooperate officially with the government, still shared
information informally with both the government and government-affiliated
organizations.
During the year the government occasionally met with and responded to inquiries
and recommendations from both groups, as well as with the Moroccan Prison
Observatory, the legally recognized umbrella organization dealing with prison
conditions.
Government Human Rights Bodies: There were three governmental human rights
entities.
The CNDH served as the principal advisory body to the king and government on
human rights. In many ways the council filled the role of a national social
ombudsman. During the year authorities announced the CNDH would also fulfill
the role of monitoring mechanism for preventing torture, in keeping with the
governments international obligations. Additionally, it produced reports during
the year criticizing government practices in allowing for freedom of expression and
assembly as well as womens rights.
The Mediator Institution, which replaced the Office of Grievances, acted as a more
general ombudsman. It considered allegations of governmental injustices and had
the power to carry out inquiries and investigations, propose disciplinary action, or
refer cases to the public prosecutor.
The mission of the Interministerial Delegation for Human Rights is to promote the
protection of human rights across all ministries, serve as a government interlocutor
with domestic and international NGOs, and interact with relevant UN bodies
regarding international human rights obligations.
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Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


The constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability,
language, social status, faith, culture, regional origin, or any other personal
circumstance. Discrimination occurred nonetheless based on each of these factors.
The constitution mandates the creation of a body to promote gender equality and
resolve parity issues--the Authority for Equality and the Fight against All Forms of
Discrimination--but authorities did not fashion implementing legislation for the
body by years end.
Women
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law punishes men convicted of rape with prison
terms of five to 10 years; when the conviction involves a minor, the prison
sentence ranges from 10 to 20 years. Spousal rape is not a crime. A sexual assault
conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of 15,000
dirhams ($1,510). Police were slow to act in domestic violence cases, and the
government generally did not enforce the law. Victims did not report the vast
majority of sexual assaults to police due to social pressure, which would most
likely hold the victim responsible. Police selectively investigated cases; among the
minority brought to trial, successful prosecutions were rare.
Domestic violence was widespread. Statistics on rape or sexual assault were
unreliable due to underreporting; no survey on the subject has been conducted
since 2009. A Bureau of Statistics 2013 planning publication, The Moroccan
Woman, by the Numbers, revealed that 63 percent of women reported suffering an
act of violence in the preceding year, although the study based these figures on the
2009 survey. Various domestic advocacy groups, such as the Democratic League
for Womens Rights, estimated that husbands perpetrated eight of 10 cases of
violence against women. Government sources stated that the Royal Gendarmerie
dealt with 9,469 instances of violence against women in 2014, of which 598 were
committed by domestic partners; the numbers were 3,055 cases of violence against
women during the year, with 349 of those involving domestic partners,
respectively. Overall, husbands committed 56 percent of reported cases of
violence against women.
An amendment to the family code disallows rapists exoneration through marriage
to their victims. Prior to 2014, rapists could avoid punishment by marrying the
victim. Nonetheless, numerous articles of the penal code pertaining to rape
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perpetuate unequal treatment for women and provide insufficient protection,


despite 2009 revisions to the family law.
The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence against women, but the
general prohibitions of the criminal code address such violence. By law high-level
misdemeanors occur when a victim suffers injuries that result in 20 days of
disability leave from work. Low-level misdemeanors occur when victims suffer
disability for less than 20 days. According to NGOs the courts rarely prosecuted
perpetrators of low-level misdemeanors. Police generally treated domestic
violence as a social rather than a criminal matter. Statistics provided by the
government indicated that it provided direct support to 50 counseling centers for
female victims of violence as part of a broader effort to support projects benefitting
women in society. The government also reported that in 2014 it had dedicated
more than 11 million dirhams ($1.1 million) to outreach programs to women
regarding their rights.
Physical abuse was legal grounds for divorce, although few women reported such
abuse to authorities. Domestic violence mediation generally occurred within the
family. Women choosing legal action generally preferred pursuing divorce in
family courts rather than criminal prosecutions.
The government operated hotlines for victims of domestic violence. A small
number of groups, such as the Antitrust Network and the Democratic League for
Womens Rights, were also available to provide assistance and guidance to
victims. Counseling centers existed exclusively in urban areas. Services for
victims of violence in rural areas were generally limited to those provided by local
police. Womens shelters were not government funded. A few NGOs made
efforts to provide shelter for victims of domestic abuse. There were reports,
however, that these shelters were not accessible to persons with disabilities.
Courts had victims of abuse cells that brought together prosecutors, lawyers,
judges, womens NGO representatives, and hospital personnel to review domestic
and child abuse cases to provide for the best interests of women or children
according to proper procedure.
Many domestic NGOs worked to advance womens rights and promote womens
issues. Among these were the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women, the
Union for Womens Action, the Democratic League for Womens Rights, and the
Moroccan Association for Womens Rights. All advocated enhanced political and
civil rights for women. NGOs also promoted literacy and taught women basic
hygiene, family planning, and childcare.
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Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment in the workplace is criminal only when it


is an abuse of authority by a superior, as stipulated by the penal code. Violations
are punishable by one to two years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 to 50,000
dirhams ($503 to $5, 025). Authorities did not effectively enforce laws against
sexual harassment. According to the government, although the law allows victims
to sue employers, only a few did so. Most feared losing their job as a result or
worried about proving the charge. NGOs reported widespread sexual harassment
contributed to the low rate of female participation in the labor force, although the
total number of violent acts was extremely low and likely not representative of the
real number of incidents in the country. Statistics were not clear on the percentage
of women in the workforce; however, figures from the Civil Service Ministry
stated that women held 29 percent of official posts in the country, compared with
16 percent in 2009.
Reproductive Rights: Individuals and couples have the right to decide the number,
spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have
access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion,
or violence. Authorities generally did not discriminate against women in accessing
sexual and reproductive health care, including for sexually transmitted infections.
Contraception is legal, and most forms were widely available. Skilled health
attendance at delivery and postpartum care were available for women who could
afford it, with approximately 74 percent of overall births attended by skilled health
personnel. In May the government passed a law authorizing abortion in cases of
rape, incest, or severe deformation, expanding existing legislation that allowed
abortion in case of danger to the life of the mother.
The most recent UN statistics showed there were approximately 120 maternal
deaths per 100,000 live births in the country in 2013 and that 58 percent of women
between the ages of 15 and 49 used a modern method of contraception in 2014.
The major factors influencing maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence
rates were female illiteracy, lack of knowledge about availability of services, cost
of services, social pressure against contraceptive use, and limited availability of
transportation to health centers and hospitals for those in rural areas.
Discrimination: The constitution provides women equal rights in civil, political,
economic, cultural, and environmental affairs. The law does not require equal pay
for equal work.

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Numerous problems related to discrimination against women remained. A Muslim


womans share of an inheritance, determined by sharia (Islamic law), varies
depending on circumstances, but it is less than that of a man. Under sharia
daughters receive half of what their brothers receive. If a woman is the only child,
she receives half, and relatives receive the other half. A sole male heir would
receive the entire estate. The 2004 reform of the family code did not change
inheritance laws, which the constitution does not specifically address. In its
October report on the state of womens rights, the CNDH called for reform of the
countrys inheritance laws to provide for legal equality in inheritance.
According to the law, women are entitled to a one-third share of inherited property.
While ministry decrees carry the force of law, implementation met considerable
resistance from men in certain areas of the country. Despite lobbying by womens
NGOs, enforcement of these property laws remained inconsistent. In October the
CNDH issued a report citing continued widespread gender inequality and
advocating reforms in line with the constitution, including creation of an
independent and empowered Authority for Gender Parity and Fighting All Forms
of Discrimination, as well as changes to the family code, including equal
inheritance rights for women. The Ministry of Interior further pressed for local
enforcement of womens entitlement to collective land rights. The government
followed with training for local authorities on the implementation of the land
allocation process. Womens NGOs continued to press the government to codify
womens rights in formal legislation. During the year the CNDH published a
report criticizing the state of womens rights in the country. The report made a
number of recommendations, including that the government reform the system of
inheritance away from religious-based rules and ensure equality of men and
women.
The family code places the family under the joint responsibility of both spouses,
makes divorce available by mutual consent, and places legal limits on polygamy.
Implementation of family law reforms remained a problem. The judiciary lacked
willingness to enforce them, as many judges did not agree with their provisions.
Corruption among working-level court clerks and lack of knowledge about its
provisions among lawyers were also obstacles to enforcement of the law.
Widespread female illiteracy also limited womens ability to navigate the legal
system. The penal code criminalizes knowingly hiding or subverting the search
for a married woman who is evading the authority to which she is legally subject.
The authorities used this section to return women involuntarily to abusive homes.

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There were few legal obstacles to womens participation in business and other
economic activities. According to some entrepreneurs and NGOs, however,
women had difficulty accessing credit and owning and managing businesses.
The government led some efforts to improve the status of women in the workplace,
most notably the constitutional mandate for the creation of an Authority for Gender
Parity and Fighting All Forms of Discrimination, an institution that was being
developed jointly between the parliament and the CNDH but remained
unimplemented at years end. The constitution provides for the equal status of
women in the realms of civics, politics, economics, social relations, culture, and
the environment.
Rural women faced restrictions on education and employment opportunities for
social and cultural reasons. Trade unions did not have women represented in
leadership positions.
Children
Birth Registration: The law permits both parents to pass nationality to their
children. There were, nonetheless, cases in which authorities denied identification
papers to children because they were born to unmarried parents. In cases of
undocumented children, NGOs, magistrates, and attorneys advocated for the
children. The process of obtaining necessary identification papers was lengthy and
arduous. According to press reports, during the year representatives of the
Ministry of Interior refused to register the births of some children whose parents
sought to give Amazigh names. Undocumented children could not register for
school.
Education: Education is free and compulsory through age 15. Girls
representation in education in recent years improved significantly, especially in
urban areas.
Child Abuse: Although NGOs, human rights groups, media outlets, and the UN
Childrens Fund claimed child abuse was widespread, there were no conclusive
government statistics on the extent of the problem. Anecdotal evidence showed
that abuse of child domestic servants was a problem. Prosecutions for child abuse
were extremely rare. The Ministry of Youth and Sports managed child protection
centers, with a number reserved specifically for girls. Authorities originally
intended the centers to provide an alternative to prison for underage delinquents,
but the centers were used to house delinquents, homeless children, and victims of
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domestic violence, drug addicts, and other children in distress who had not
committed a crime. Some centers housed minors convicted of homicide alongside
minors who were victims of domestic abuse. This mingling of children in conflict
with the law and children in distress also occurred during other stages of the
process. While the budgets of the centers were low, conditions varied because
some centers received charitable gifts.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18, but parents, with
informed consent of the minor, may secure a waiver from a judge for underage
marriage. The judiciary approved the vast majority of petitions for underage
marriages. Child marriage remained a concern.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The age of consent is 18. Penalties for sexual
exploitation of children range from two years to life imprisonment and fines from
9,550 dirhams ($960) to 344,000 dirhams ($34,600). Moreover, persons convicted
of sexual exploitation may lose their national rights and right of residence for
between five and 10 years. Convicted rapists and pedophiles are not eligible for
pardons. Children engaged in prostitution, and the country was a destination for
sex tourism. The penal code also provides punishment for child pornography.
Also see the Department of Labors Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
at www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For
information see the Department of States report on compliance at
travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html and countryspecific information at
travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/country/morocco.html.
Anti-Semitism
Community leaders estimated the size of the Jewish population at 4,000. Jews
generally lived in safety, and the government provided them appropriate security.
Reports of anti-Semitic acts were rare.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of States Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
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Persons with Disabilities


The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory,
intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health
care. The law also provides for regulations and building codes that provide for
access for persons with disabilities. The government did not effectively enforce or
implement these laws and regulations. While building codes enacted in 2003
require accessibility for all persons, the codes exempt most pre-2003 structures,
and authorities rarely enforced them for new construction. Most public
transportation was inaccessible to persons with disabilities, although the national
rail system offered wheelchair ramps, handicap-accessible bathrooms, and special
seating areas. Government policy provides that persons with disabilities should
have equal access to information and communications. Special communication
devices for the blind and deaf were not widely available.
The Ministry of Social Development, Family, and Solidarity has responsibility for
protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and attempted to integrate persons
with disabilities into society by implementing a quota of 7 percent for persons with
disabilities in vocational training in the public sector and 5 percent in the private
sector. Both sectors were far from achieving the quotas. The government
maintained more than 400 integrated classes for children with learning disabilities,
but private charities were primarily responsible for integration. Families typically
supported persons with disabilities, although some survived by begging.
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Many of the poorest regions in the country, particularly the Middle Atlas region,
were predominantly Amazigh and had illiteracy rates as high as 80 percent. Basic
governmental services in this mountainous and underdeveloped region were not
extensive. Official languages are Arabic and Amazigh, although Arabic
predominates. French and Amazigh materials were available in the news media
and, to a much lesser extent, educational institutions. Authorities made no
progress toward passing a law to implement the constitutional provision making
Amazigh an official language.
Approximately 60 percent of the population, including the royal family, claimed
some Amazigh heritage. Amazigh cultural groups contended they were rapidly
losing their traditions and language to Arabization. The government provided
television programs in the three national Amazigh dialects of Tarifit, Tashelhit, and
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Tamazight. The government reported that it offered Amazigh language classes in


the curriculum of 30 percent of schools. A lack of qualified teachers hindered
otherwise expanding Amazigh language education. The palace-funded Royal
Institute of Amazigh Culture created a university-level teacher-training program to
eliminate the shortage of qualified teachers. Instruction in the Amazigh language
is mandatory for students at the interior ministrys School for Administrators in
Kenitra.
(For more information regarding discrimination against Sahrawis in Moroccancontrolled Western Sahara, see the Department of States 2015 Country Reports on
Human Rights for Western Sahara.)
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
The penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity with a maximum
sentence of three years in prison. Media and the public addressed questions of
sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity more openly than in previous
years.
The government deems LGBTI orientation or identity illegal. Antidiscrimination
laws do not apply to LGBTI persons, and the penal code does not criminalize hate
crimes. There was a stigma against LGBTI persons, but there were no reports of
discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment,
housing, access to education, or health care. Authorities prosecuted individuals
engaged in same-sex sexual activity at least once during the year.
In one widely publicized case, authorities sentenced two men to three months in
prison and a fine of 500 dirhams ($50) for the crime of breach of public modesty
and homosexuality. Authorities arrested them for publicly kissing in the
proximity of Hassan Tower in Rabat, allegedly in connection with a protest in the
same location by French LGBTI group Femen the previous day. The mens
attorneys contested the charges, stating that the men were not connected to the
protests, and authorities could not show that they engaged in indecent behavior.
Sexual orientation and gender identity constituted a basis for societal violence,
harassment, blackmail, or other actions, generally at a local level, although with
reduced frequency. There were reports of societal discrimination, physical
violence, or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
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For example, in June observers filmed a mob of men in Fes attacking a man
presumed to be gay. Authorities arrested several of the men involved in the
beating; however, a July 2 statement by the Ministries of Interior and Justice
implied that the victim had violated the law, while urging individuals not to take
matters into their own hands. In a separate incident in September, police arrested
two men in Casablanca for assaulting another man whom they presumed to be gay.
Reportedly, they forced him to undress before attempting to blackmail him with
threats of showing a video of the assault to his family.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Persons with HIV/AIDS faced discrimination and had limited treatment options.
The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS reported that some health-care providers
were reluctant to treat persons with HIV/AIDS due to fear of infection. There were
domestic NGOs focused on treating HIV/AIDS patients.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The constitution provides workers with the rights to form and join unions, strike,
and bargain collectively, with some restrictions. As a result of 2011 constitutional
reforms, new draft laws on the right to strike and the right to form and join unions
were in process. The law prohibits certain categories of government employees,
including members of the armed forces, police, and some members of the judiciary
from forming and joining unions and from conducting strikes. The law also
excludes migrant workers from assuming leadership positions in unions. The labor
code does not cover domestic workers.
According to the labor code, employer and worker representatives should conduct
discussions to agree on the wages and employment conditions of unionized
workers. The law allows several independent unions to exist but requires 35
percent of the total employee base to be associated with a union for the union to be
representative and engage in collective bargaining. The law prohibits antiunion
discrimination and prohibits companies from dismissing workers for participating
in legitimate union-organizing activities. Courts have the authority to reinstate
workers dismissed arbitrarily and may enforce rulings that compel employers to
pay damages and back pay.

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The law concerning strikes requires compulsory arbitration of disputes, prohibits


sit-ins, calls for a 10-day notice of a strike, and allows for the hiring of replacement
workers. The government may intervene in strikes. A strike may not take place
over matters covered in a collective contract for one year after the contract comes
into force. The government has the authority to disperse strikers in public areas
not authorized for demonstrations and to prevent the unauthorized occupancy of
private space. Unions may neither engage in sabotage nor prevent those
individuals who were not on strike from working.
The government did not adequately enforce labor laws due to a lack of inspection
personnel and resources. Inspectors do not have punitive power so cannot levy
fines or other punishments. Upon action of the state prosecutor, the courts can
force the employer to take remedial actions through a court decree. Penalties were
not sufficient to deter violations. Regulations also required inspectors to serve as
mediators in disputes, requiring them to spend a significant amount of time in their
offices, not conducting inspections. Enforcement procedures were subject to
lengthy delays and appeals.
The government generally respected freedom of association and the right to
collective bargaining. Employers limited the scope of collective bargaining,
frequently setting wages unilaterally for the majority of unionized and
nonunionized workers. Domestic NGOs reported that employers often used
temporary contracts to discourage employees from affiliating with or organizing
unions. Under the law unions can negotiate with the government on national-level
labor issues. The government continued to prove unsuccessful in calling
traditional tripartite social dialogue sessions, and there were none during the year.
The government called the last formal social dialogue session in 2012. At the
sectoral level, trade unions negotiated with private employers concerning
minimum wage, compensation, and other concerns.
Labor disputes were common and, in some cases, the result of employers failing to
implement collective bargaining agreements and withholding wages. Trade unions
complained that the government at times used the penal code to prosecute workers
for striking and to suppress strikes. Most union federations strongly allied with
political parties, but unions were generally free from government interference.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The law penalizes
forced adult labor by a fine for the first offense and a jail term of up to three
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months for subsequent offenses. Penalties for forced child labor under the law
range from one to three years imprisonment. Authorities did not adequately
enforce the legislation.
Labor laws do not protect domestic workers, which generally included certain
vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and children from rural areas.
Employers confiscated certain migrant workers passports and sometimes withheld
their wages. Labor inspectors did not inspect small workshops and private homes
where the majority of such practices occurred, as the law does not allow labor
inspections in private homes. The small number of inspectors, the scarce resources
at their disposal, and the broad geographic dispersion of sites also limited effective
enforcement of the law.
Reports indicated that forced labor, especially of children, occurred (see section
7.c.). Some families from rural areas sent girls to work as domestics in urban
areas. Boys experienced forced labor as apprentices in the artisan and construction
industries and in mechanic shops (see section 7.c.). Local NGOs reported that an
undetermined number of Filipina and Indonesian domestic workers filed suits
against their former employers. These suits included significant indicators of
potential trafficking abuses, such as withholding passports or wages. Information
on disposition of these cases was not available. Also see the Department of States
Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The minimum age for employment in all sectors is 15. The law prohibits children
younger than 16 from working more than 10 hours per day; employers must give
them a break of at least one hour. The law does not permit children younger than
16 to work between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. in nonagricultural work or
between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. in agriculture. The overwhelming majority of child
laborers worked in rural areas, according to the governments statistical agency,
the High Planning Commission. The law excludes seasonal agricultural work and
work in traditional artisanal or handicraft sectors of business with fewer than five
employees. The law prohibits employment of children younger than 18 in stone
quarries, mines, fishing, or any other positions the government considers
hazardous.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs is responsible for implementing
and enforcing child labor laws and regulations. The law provides for legal
sanctions against employers who recruit children under the age of 15, with fines
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ranging from 27,000 to 32,000 dirhams ($2,710 to $3,210). Punishment for


violations of the child labor laws includes criminal penalties, civil fines, and
withdrawal or suspension of one or more civil, national, or family rights, including
denial of legal residence in the country for five to 10 years. Penalties were not
sufficient to deter violations.
The ministry did not systematically inspect workplaces or enforce sanctions
against child labor. According to various reports, police, prosecutors, and judges
rarely enforced legal provisions on forced labor in cases involving child
domestics, and few parents of children working as domestics were willing or able
to pursue legal avenues likely to provide any direct benefit.
Authorities successfully prosecuted employers throughout the year for employing a
child domestic worker, but labor inspectors responsible for enforcing the labor
code do not have jurisdiction to inspect private residences. During the year the 51
national labor inspectorates had 53 inspectors trained in child labor issues and
designated as a focal point.
In 2014 the government launched a public integrated policy for the protection of
children after a yearlong review by an interministerial committee, chaired by the
head of government. The Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family, and Social
Development has responsibility to oversee the plan and coordinate with other
involved ministries. This policy was formally adopted on June 3, and incorporated
lessons learned from the 2006-15 National Plan of Action for Children, which it
supplanted. The plan includes five objectives: strengthening the legal framework
and effectiveness of child protection; the implementation of integrated regional
systems of child protection; the standardization of structures and practices; the
promotion of social norms protecting children; and the implementation of reliable
and standardized information collection systems to regularly and effectively
follow, evaluate, and monitor efforts. Stakeholders reported limited government
coordination on providing services to reintegrate children removed from child
labor with many agencies performing overlapping roles that led to gaps in child
reintegration.
The government expanded coordination with local, national, and international
NGOs on education and training programs to combat child labor during the year.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs, led by the Office of the Director
of Work in conjunction with NGOs, oversaw programs dealing with child labor.
The programs sought to decrease the incidence of child labor by raising awareness
of the problem, providing financial assistance to needy families, and lowering
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obstacles for at-risk children to attend school. Additionally, public education was
available to migrant children, lowering their vulnerability to child labor.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs reported that, in the first six
months of the year (the most recent annualized inspection information available),
inspectors conducted 247 visits to different private-sector enterprises. During
these visits they made 1,196 official observations and issued 46 formal notices
and 32 trial reports. Authorities removed 26 children under the age of 15 from
work and 158 children between the ages of 15 and 18 from hazardous work. There
was no detailed information available on the collection of fines or on assistance to
children identified through inspections.
Observers reported noncompliance with child labor laws in agriculture and private
urban residences, where parents sent children as young as age six to work as
domestic workers, mainly in Casablanca.
Some children became apprentices before the age of 12, particularly in small
family-run workshops in the handicraft industry. Children also worked in
hazardous occupations as designated by law. These included fishing and, in the
informal sector, in textiles, light manufacturing, and carpet weaving. Childrens
safety and health conditions and wages were often substandard.
Employers subjected children to the worst forms of child labor, including
commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as the result of human trafficking (see
section 6, Children); forced domestic work, sometimes as the result of human
trafficking; and forced labor in the production of artisan crafts and construction.
NGOs documented the physical and psychological abuse of children employed as
domestic servants. Employers paid parents for their childrens work. Most child
domestics received food, lodging, and clothing instead of monetary compensation,
or employers paid them significantly below the minimum wage.
During the year the High Planning Commission reported continued reduction in
child labor, claiming that during the year approximately 59,160 children between
the ages of seven and 15worked, compared with 68,870 in 2014 and 88, 570 in
2013.
Also see the Department of Labors Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
at www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings.
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d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation


The labor code prohibits discrimination with respect to employment and
occupation on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, marital status, religion,
political opinion, trade union affiliation, national ancestry, or social origin,
resulting in a violation or alteration of the principle of equal opportunity or
treatment on equal footing regarding employment or the practice of a profession.
This was true in particular with regard to recruitment, conduct and labor
distribution, vocational training, wage, advances, the granting of social benefits,
disciplinary measures, and dismissal. The law does not address sexual orientation,
gender identity, age, language, HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases
in this context. The law provides for equal pay for equal work. The law prohibits
the employment of women and youths (between the ages of 15 and 17) in certain
occupations that authorities considered hazardous, such as mining.
Discrimination in all categories prohibited by law occurred, as the government
lacked sufficient human and financial resources to enforce these laws effectively.
Migrant worker organizations reported that some migrants experienced
discrimination in hiring, wages, or conditions of employment.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The minimum wage was 108 dirhams ($11.10) per day in the industrialized sector
and 70 dirhams ($7.17) per day for agricultural workers. The World Bank
established the absolute poverty-level threshold wage as 70 dirhams ($7.17) per
day. Including traditional holiday-related bonuses, workers generally received the
equivalent of 13 to 16 months salary each year. Informal businesses employed
approximately 60 percent of the labor force and often ignored minimum wage
requirements. A temporary contract program (Contracts Anapac) designed to help
new entrants into the job market denied young workers many social protections,
enabled long working hours, and paid below the minimum wage. This program
and other legally permissible temporary contracting programs were also subject to
abuse, replacing full-time workers with temporary workers.
The law provides for a 44- to 48-hour maximum workweek with no more than 10
hours in a single day, premium pay for overtime, paid public and annual holidays,
and minimum conditions for health and safety, including a prohibition on night
work for women and minors. The law prohibits excessive overtime. The labor
code does not cover domestic workers, who were primarily female citizens.
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Occupational health and safety standards, reviewed and enforced by the Ministry
of Employment and Social Affairs, are rudimentary, except for a prohibition on the
employment of women and children in certain dangerous occupations. The law
prohibits persons under the age of 18 from hazardous work in 33 areas, including
working in mines, handling dangerous materials, transporting explosives, and
operating heavy machinery.
Many employers did not observe the legal provisions for conditions of work. The
government did not effectively enforce basic provisions of the labor code, such as
payment of the minimum wage and other basic benefits under the National Social
Security Fund. The countrys 409 labor inspectors attempted to monitor working
conditions and investigate accidents, but lack of resources prevented effective
enforcement of labor laws. Penalties were generally not sufficient to deter
violations.
According to NGOs, no major workplace accidents occurred during the year.
There were, however, numerous media reports of accidents, sometimes fatal, on
construction sites that had substandard standards or lacked safety equipment. In
the formal sector, workers can remove themselves from situations that endangered
health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively
protected employees in this situation.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015


United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor